Updated: September 24, 2012
Developed from F-8 Crusader, a century-era transonic carrier-based air superiority jet, A-7 was the leading Navy strike aircraft alongside Intruder for about two decades. It saw action in Vietnam, Grenada, Libya, and was finally retired after the first Gulf War, where it was used for SEAD. Capable of carrying a handsome load of bombs and a pair of Sidewinder missiles for self-defense, Corsair II was not the most distinguished or exciting American combat aircraft, but it did its job well and had a few unique features.
Like its predecessor, Corsair II mounted its self-defense air-to-air missiles on cheek pylons. On the other hand, variable incidence wing roots used for better take off life were omitted, but the wing had a longer span. My plane was a Heller 1/72 model, with the old insignia and coloring.
Overall, the model was fairly pleasing to make. Parts matched well. The only problem was the landing gear, which was too brittle to support the aircraft properly. Another element that is almost always included with Heller kits is the pilot figurine. While I normally dislike doing this, I made an exception this time. So, I had the guy's face painted, honest, including eyes and brows, honest. Not exactly Monet, but passable.
To make it more interesting, I had the cockpit open and the wings folded, although neither of these features were offered in the kit. I also lowered the arrestor hook, duly painted black and white, striped. All movable parts were marked in red, as they should be on a carrier-based plane.
Moreover, the basic weapons set was not to my liking. It included a pair of drop tanks, some AA missiles and a dozen Mk.82 free-fall bombs. However, I had lots of spares from other models, so I borrowed some Mk.83 bombs from my F-15 model and used them here. Eventually, the A-7E was armed with its two AIM-9 missiles, two drop tanks, two clusters of 500lb bombs mounted in triplets on a single pylon, and four Mk.83 bombs, loaded onto the external wing pylons, which were supposed to be left empty. Now, before I did this, I checked the real bomb loading configurations and this was actually ok. Corsair II could carry as many as 24 Mk.82 bombs in 4 x 2 x 3 setting.
Since this was an old, carrier-based plane, subjected to serious abuse, I also added a bit of rust and wear marks on the fuselage, in terms of flaked paint, oil leaks and scratches. Not sure about the authenticity of my attempt, but I felt good about it, all in all. Well, if you happened to fly or service one of these, do drop me a line about your experience with aesthetics. Sort of like what I did with AC-47, only more refined.
A few more images:
This is not one of my finest models, I'm afraid. In my opinion, the paint job is fairly mediocre, I must admit. Working with gloss colors is not fun, either. Moreover, I was not too satisfied with the wing folding. A realistic configuration would be a much wider angle, but I could not accomplish that with the available parts. Eventually, I came to dislike the bombs, too. While the loading does look neat, it's a bit visually jarring. The colors are not quite right, although I aimed for a mixed load of nuclear payload, in red, and ordinary high-explosive ordnance. In hindsight, I probably should not have mixed the bomb types. And used drab rather than red for coloring.
I guess the overall grade is 6/10. Well, that would be all.